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FFL: Preseason | NFL: Week 1

Lineup Prep: Super Bowl

Wed Feb 7 8:43am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer

Related photo caption below

Pacheco is playing at high level


Not sure about you, but there is not a better weekend in sports than Super Bowl weekend. It is as good as it gets. Just everything involved with it is so much fun. I am so looking forward to it all this weekend. Let’s hope it is a good game and lives up to the hype. Now for my random thoughts for the week. . . .

I will give you my pick for the game right off the bat. I think it will be a close game, but look for the Chiefs to squeak it out. I think the experience factor plays a difference here in the end, especially when it comes to the quarterback position. Patrick Mahomes has been outstanding during the playoffs and think he has a huge advantage over Brock Purdy. Plus, the Chiefs defense has been outstanding lately, completely shutting down the opponent. I don’t see them shutting down the 49ers high-powered offense, but think they will cause Purdy problems. I’m going with a Chiefs 31-27 victory.

If you still don’t have any fantasy teams alive in the playoffs, consider playing our fun pickem contests. We have tons of options available to play with for the Super Bowl. I wanted to give you a few of my favorite pickem plays for the big game. Give me Travis Kelce more than 70.5-receiving yards. Kelce has 71-plus yards all three of his playoff games and is coming off arguably his best game of the season. And the 49ers struggled to stop the tight end last week, seeing Sam LaPorta rack up the receptions and yards. I also like Brandon Aiyuk less than 61.5-receiving yards. Aiyuk has failed to hit that mark two of three games and has just three catches each of his last three games. Lastly, I like Deebo Samuel more than 79.5-rushing and receiving yards. Samuel had 11 touches his last game and was a huge part of the offense. I look for the 49ers to get him involved early and often, giving him good potential to rack up some total yards.

I’m not sure how I feel about the Commanders hiring of Kliff Kingsbury. His offenses were fine in Arizona, but not as explosive as many thought and he struggled some using Caleb Williams last year at USC. I think the Commanders would have been better served keeping Eric Bieniemy as their offensive coordinator. I thought he did a great job with the offense last year in Washington all things considered. I’m not convinced Kingsbury is going to be an upgrade.

On a different subject, can we stop teasing and showing parts of the Super Bowl commercials before the game? I mean part of the fun of the game is the commercials. They are always entertaining and a part of the event. But now, you see parts of the commercials before the game, ruining the surprise. C’mon people. Let’s stop this tradition right now.

We had our first TFC draft of the 2024 season last night. And in a surprise move, the first pick of the draft was Breece Hall. And we also saw Sam LaPorta get picked before Travis Kelce. It is always interesting to see how these early drafts shake out. A lot is going to change between now and the start of next season, but trends are starting now. In this draft, four running backs were picked in the first round compared to eight receivers. And the quarterback position looks as deep as ever with guys like Jordan Love getting picked in Round 11. Brock Purdy and Kirk Cousins also went very late.

News and Notes: The Chargers hired Greg Roman as their new offensive coordinator. Roman tends to be more run heavy when it comes to play calling. . . . .Former Texans and Patriots running back Rex Burkhead announced his retirement from the NFL on Tuesday. 

HOT PLAYS

Isiah Pacheco, RB, Chiefs. Pacheco has taken his game to new heights during the Chiefs playoff run. He has at least 15 fantasy points four straight games and found the end zone seven consecutive games. He even has 20-plus carries two of three games, getting a big workload in the Chiefs offense. Expect more of the same this week from Pacheco. The 49ers allowed 182-rushing yards to the Lions their last game and allowed 135-plus rushing yards each of their two playoff games.

Travis Kelce, TE, Chiefs. Kelce has looked like a different player during these playoffs than the regular season. He had 11 receptions his last game and at least five catches all three playoff games. He has 14-plus fantasy points all three games. He has really elevated his game after a ho-hum second half of the season. Look for him to be the focal point of the Chiefs passing game once again this week. And San Francisco couldn’t contain Sam LaPorta in the Championship game, allowing him to get nine receptions for 97 yards. The Packers tight ends had six receptions and a touchdown in the 49ers other playoff game.

COLD PLAYS 

Brandon Aiyuk, WR, 49ers. Aiyuk did score a touchdown his last game, which was a big positive, but he had just three receptions. He has just three cathodes three straight games. He has were than 40 yards two of three. And with the Chiefs secondary clamping down on receivers right not, it could be more of the same for Aiyuk this week. He could be held in check once again.

Jerick McKinnon, RB, Chiefs. McKinnon is expected to make his long-awaited return this week, returning from a groin injury. He has not played since Week 15. Just remember he has not reached double-digit touches in a single game this year. Pacheco is the lead back in this offense and will get most of the work at running back. McKinnon played great during the Chiefs playoff run last season, but this is a new year. Plus, McKinnon has not played in several weeks, so you have to wonder how much he is even on the field. He will be a big risk to use for fantasy owners.

SLEEPERS

Jauan Jennings, WR, 49ers. There are always surprise players in the Super Bowl, so why not Jennings. He could draw the most favorable matchups in coverage for the 49ers receiver options. And he has looked good in the playoffs, having six receptions for 69 yards in two games. He played 42 percent of the snaps last week - even with Deebo Samuel back in the lineup. Jennings might get a big play or two in this one, making him an intriguing fantasy play. 

Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR, Chiefs. Valdes-Scantling had the game-clinching reception in the Championship game, making a sliding catch on third down to clinch the game. He finished with two receptions for 38 yards. But he played a season-high 83 percent of the snaps in that game, which is encouraging. If he is on the field that much again this week, his reception and yardage totals could rise in what might be a high-scoring game.

High/Low Scoring Games

Each week we will take a look at some of the high and low scoring games for the coming week. In high scoring affairs, get your marginal players on those teams in your lineup to take advantage of the possible points barrage. And in the low scoring games, keep those marginal players on the bench and make sure to have your defenses involved in those contests.

High Scoring Games: Chiefs/49ers.

Low Scoring Games: None.

Jeff Paur is a two-time finalist for FSWA Fantasy Football Writer of the Year and won the FSWA award for Best Fantasy Football Article on the Web in 2011. He also was the most accurate expert in 2012, winning the FSTA Fantasy Football Accuracy Award. If you have any questions for Jeff, email him at jeff@rtsports.com. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.

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Player Notes
Trey Sermon Jun 25 3:00pm ET
Trey Sermon

With no clear replacement for Zack Moss after he left in free agency this offseason, the likeliest option to ascend to the No. 2 running back spot behind starter Jonathan Taylor appears to be Indianapolis Colts RB Trey Sermon. His hard running style has earned him the first crack at the job during offseason workouts. Sermon is on his third team in four seasons in the NFL, but this is the closest he's come to establishing some consistency in his career. He averaged 4.6 yards per carry in 2023. Things are looking up for Sermon with training camp on the horizon, but fellow backups Evan Hull and Tyler Goodson will also be factors in the competition this summer and in the preseason. The 25-year-old Sermon had 35 carries for 160 yards last year in Indy and would be a popular waiver-wire pickup in fantasy leagues if Taylor misses more time with an injury in 2024.

From RotoBaller

Keion White Jun 25 2:20pm ET
Keion White

New England Patriots first-year head coach Jerod Mayo mentioned defensive lineman/edge rusher Keion White when asked if there was a player this offseason that has surprised him so far. "Keion has kind of taken that step forward as far as being a leader -- not as much vocally, but you see him actually leading the groups and working well," Mayo said of the 2023 second-rounder. White played 45.8 percent of the defensive snaps as a rookie last year and looks primed to increase that number in his sophomore campaign in 2024. In 16 games played (four starts) in his rookie season in 2023, White compiled 26 tackles (12 solo), one sack, three tackles for loss, five QB hits and three pass breakups for the Patriots secondary. Look for him to have a bigger role this year.

From RotoBaller

DJ Turner Jun 25 2:20pm ET
DJ Turner

Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Dax Hill entered the offseason in a precarious spot. The first-rounder in 2022 was the starting free safety last year in an experiment that didn't go well. As a result, Hill was moved to outside cornerback, where he appears to be taking charge in a position battle with DJ Turner, a second-rounder from 2023 who started 12 games his rookie season. Hill has taken the position change in stride and was disruptive in 7-on-7 drills during mandatory minicamp earlier this month. He is shaping up to remain a useful player for the Bengals' secondary as they enter training camp this summer. The 23-year-old had 110 tackles (72 solo), 1.5 sacks, six tackles for loss, five QB hits, two interceptions and 11 pass breakups in 17 starts last year, but he may be less productive in IDP fantasy formats with the move to corner.

From RotoBaller

Russell Wilson Jun 25 2:10pm ET
Russell Wilson

Unless something unforeseen happens, quarterback Russell Wilson will be the Pittsburgh Steelers' starting QB in Week 1 against the Atlanta Falcons this fall. It's his job to lose in training camp and the preseason. "I'm really pleased with what I heard coming (out) of there with Russ," NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah said on the Rich Eisen Show. "I know there's been a lot of talk with him and Justin Fields. It's Russell Wilson's gig. Everything I've been told, they've been impressed with how he's thrown. Throwing with anticipation." The Athletic's Mark Kaboly also listed Fields as a "loser" in OTAs and minicamp because he feels Wilson has a chokehold on the starting gig right now. It doesn't really change anything from when head coach Mike Tomlin said Wilson would be in pole position as the starter earlier this offseason. Wilson is also embracing a leadership role and has embraced the city of Pittsburgh.

From RotoBaller

Jody Fortson Jun 25 2:10pm ET
Jody Fortson

The Miami Dolphins signed veteran Jonnu Smith this offseason to provide a receiving threat at tight end, but Jody Fortson Jr. stood out during spring practices. Fortson has a wide catch radius and has flashed the ability to pick up yardage after the catch. The former Kansas City Chiefs tight end has a challenging road to a meaningful workload in 2024 with both Smith and Durham Smythe on the roster, as well as the plethora of pass-catchers in Miami's offense, but the early returns on Fortson say he will be able to contribute when called upon. The 28-year-old spent all of last year on the Chiefs' Injured Reserve after having shoulder surgery, but he's healthy now and is a tight end to watch for now as we approach training camp this summer. The fifth-year pro could become an intriguing waiver-wire pickup this year if one of Smith or Smythe miss time due to injury.

From RotoBaller

Stefon Diggs Jun 25 10:30am ET
Stefon Diggs

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Bryan Thompson went undrafted in 2023 following a six-year college career that included four seasons at Utah and two seasons at Arizona State. The second-year pro is already 25 years old and likely has an uphill battle to make the team's 53-man roster, but Bills reporter Kyle Silagyi believes he has a chance after he impressed in minicamp this month. "Bryan Thompson signed with the Bills as an undrafted free agent after falling through the cracks of the 2023 NFL Draft, spending his rookie season on the team's practice squad," Silagyi wrote. "He's put that year of system experience to good use throughout offseason workouts, consistently flashing when given the opportunity. This culminated with a flashy play on the second day of the team's mandatory minicamp, a long touchdown grab that cemented Thompson as a player worth tracking at training camp." Thompson posted just 1,263 receiving yards and four touchdowns in 55 collegiate games, so it would be a surprise if he becomes an impact player for fantasy football. However, if he makes the Week 1 roster, he'll enter the fantasy radar in ultra-deep leagues. After Buffalo moved on from long-time receivers Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis, there are plenty of targets up for grabs.

From RotoBaller

Brandon Aiyuk Jun 25 10:30am ET
Brandon Aiyuk

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk is meeting with the organization on Monday, according to Adam Schefter. The 26-year-old has been in trade rumors all offseason as he seeks a new contract following a career-best 1,342 receiving yards in 2023. Wideouts Justin Jefferson, A.J. Brown, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Jaylen Waddle, DeVonta Smith, and Nico Collins all signed lucrative deals this offseason, and Aiyuk wants to be next in line. The 49ers and the 2020 first-round pick have reportedly been far apart in contract negotiations, and Aiyuk has hinted at the team "not wanting" him. This is a situation worth monitoring, and hopefully, a move will be made soon to bring clarity to the 49ers' pass-catching group in fantasy football.

From RotoBaller

Sean McVay Jun 25 10:30am ET
Sean McVay

Los Angeles Rams new cornerback Tre'Davious White (Achilles) signed a one-year deal with the Rams on April 9 after being released by the Buffalo Bills. White continues to rehab this offseason after tearing his Achilles in Week 4 of last year. He was working off to the side with trainers for the majority of organized team activities before participating in the walkthrough in the final week. It remains to be seen how much White will be able to do in training camp this summer. "He's making good progress. He was able to partake in the walkthrough. It's obviously a significant injury that he's overcome. He's gotten a lot of good stuff done on the side. You could see he's really locked in and engaged in the meeting setting," head coach Sean McVay said. White's 18 career interceptions are tied for 11th-most among active cornerbacks, per Pro Football Reference.

From RotoBaller

Baker Mayfield Jun 25 10:30am ET
Baker Mayfield

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield showed significant progress during mandatory minicamp as he learns new offensive coordinator Liam Coen's scheme. It helps that Mayfield has a good amount of continuity among the team's offensive personnel, from his supporting cast of skill-position players to most of the offensive line. "He has a lot more audibles on his plate than he did in the past and he's getting them down very [well]," head coach Todd Bowles said of Mayfield. The 29-year-old Mayfield had a career year under Dave Canales, now the head coach of the Panthers, in 2023. Mayfield has plenty of playmakers around him and is great at pushing the ball downfield, but his lack of rushing upside pushes him down to low-end QB2 territory in fantasy as he looks for an encore in Tampa in 2024.

From RotoBaller

Trey Sermon Jun 24 10:13pm ET
Trey Sermon

Dynasty | Multiple reports are indicating Trey Sermon is likely going to win the backup running back job in Indianapolis. Dynasty Analysis: This isn't the first we've heard of this in June. It seems Sermon may finally be turning a corner in his career and while he likely won't see the field much if the Colts have their way, it looks like he'd be a difference maker should Jonathan Taylor be injured next season. At this point, Sermon looks like a player who should be on dynasty rosters.

From Dynasty League Fantasy

Aidan O'Connell Jun 24 6:13pm ET
Aidan O'Connell

Dynasty | Numerous reports are stating Aidan O'Connell is in the lead to be the Raiders starting quarterback. Dynasty Analysis: Many believed Gardner Minshew would walk in and take over but that doesn't seem to be the case. The Raiders were left in the cold in this year's NFL Draft, seeing just about every option being taken ahead of them. O'Connell had his moments but he's far from a sure thing to start. Regardless, this is a story to keep track of moving forward.

From Dynasty League Fantasy

Isaiah Likely Jun 24 3:00pm ET
Isaiah Likely

Baltimore Ravens tight end Isaiah Likely said he's focused on learning all of the receiving positions in Year 2 of offensive coordinator Todd Monken's scheme. "It's being a chess piece, being anywhere 'Monk' needs me to be in this offense -; whether it's in the slot, in-line, in the backfield, split out wide by myself," Likely said. "The more you know, the more you can stay on the field." The Ravens already have All-Pro tight end Mark Andrews, but the team wants to get both Andrews and Likely on the field more at the same time in 2024. In eight games after Likely stepped in for the injured Andrews last year, he caught 25 passes for 372 yards and six touchdowns. With an expanded role in 2024, Likely could be a TE2 in fantasy, but his ceiling will remain limited as long as Andrews stays healthy.

From RotoBaller

Shaquille Leonard Jun 24 2:40pm ET
Shaquille Leonard

Free-agent linebacker Shaquille Leonard, who was released by the Indianapolis Colts last year in late November, intends to sign with a team and play in 2024, but he's also not ruling out retirement if the right opportunity doesn't come along. Since earning All-Pro or Pro Bowl honors in each of his first four seasons with the Colts in 58 games, Leonard only appeared in 17 games during his two most recent seasons due to injuries derailing his once-promising career. "If it happens, it happens. If it don't, it don't. I think throughout my career I've had a great career, even if I do step away from it. I'm enjoying life and just waiting on that opportunity," Leonard said. The 28-year-old played in 14 games (12 starts) last year with the Colts and Philadelphia Eagles and finished with 88 tackles (46 solo), one sack and four tackles for loss.

From RotoBaller

Jalen Nailor Jun 24 2:30pm ET
Jalen Nailor

It's clear that the Minnesota Vikings are hoping to see a jump from wide receiver Jalen Nailor in training camp this summer before making any final determinations about whether to acquire a veteran No. 3 wideout before the start of the 2024 regular season. Justin Jefferson is the obvious WR1 in Minnesota, with second-year pass-catcher Jordan Addison in the No. 2 role following an impressive rookie campaign. Nailor will be competing with Brandon Powell and Trent Sherfield for the No. 3 role. He struggled with injuries in 2023 and into this offseason, and he missed mandatory minicamp with the flu. But Nailor has proven to be a slippery target and has taken a total of 160 snaps and run routes on 72 of them in his two seasons. He's caught 12 passes for 208 yards and a touchdown but could become more interesting as a waiver-wire pickup if one of Jefferson or Addison miss time.

From RotoBaller

Will Reichard Jun 24 2:30pm ET
Will Reichard

Minnesota Vikings rookie kicker Will Reichard managed to put on a display during spring practices that confirms he has the leg to kick in the NFL for a long time. However, most of his efforts came during positional drills without a defense pressuring him and sometimes even without a snap. During the final organized team activities, Reichard nearly hit a balcony that is perched on the wall behind and above the goal posts while moving through a progression of 40-plus yard attempts. He later drilled a 60-yarder that landed in a net that sits 10 feet behind the goal post and 10 feet off the ground. Reichard's success as a rookie will depend as much on his mental makeup as it does on his leg strength, though. For now, he's just one to watch as we near training camp and the preseason.

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Isaiah Buggs Jun 24 2:10pm ET
Isaiah Buggs

The Kansas City Chiefs informed defensive lineman Isaiah Buggs of his release on Monday, according to a source. The move was expected after Buggs was arrested on June 16 on charges of domestic violence and burglary less than a month after he turned himself in for misdemeanor animal-cruelty charges. It remains to be seen if he'll get picked up by another team on the open market before the start of the 2024 season. The 27-year-old was originally a sixth-round pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2019 draft out of Alabama. Buggs played the first three years of his career in Pittsburgh before joining the Detroit Lions for the last two seasons. Detroit waived him earlier this year. In his five years in the NFL, Buggs has 89 tackles (42 solo), two sacks, four tackles for loss, 12 QB hits, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in 56 games (23 starts).

From RotoBaller

Vita Vea Jun 24 10:05am ET
Vita Vea

The Athletic's Dan Pompei thinks Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Vita Vea could have a career year in 2024. The seven-year veteran is entering the prime of his career at 29 years old after losing a significant amount of weight in the offseason while working out with former teammate Ndamukong Suh. Vea has been listed at 347 points but probably weighed closer to 367 pounds. The Buccaneers have wanted him to slim down for a while. Over the last three seasons, he has missed games with toe, groin, pectoral, calf, foot and knee injuries. In addition to being quicker and more explosive, Vea could also be healthier in 2024. The 29-year-old inside pass-rusher is hoping to play increased snaps on defense now that he's lighter after recording a career-high 43 tackles (28 solo) last year while picking up 5.5 sacks, one shy of his career-high.

Stefon Diggs Jun 23 9:30pm ET
Stefon Diggs

According to Houston Texans quarterback Case Keenum, wide receiver Stefon Diggs has impressed his teammates this offseason. "It's really cool to get back out there and see Stefon on the practice field and to watch him absolutely do some dirty things on some routes that I haven't seen anybody be able to do," said Keenum during his annual youth football camp. "He's a dynamic player, and he hasn't lost a step." Diggs has been one of the league's top wideouts for years, and he finished the 2023-24 campaign by amassing 1,183 yards and eight touchdowns off 107 catches. The 30-year-old will have the luxury of catching passes from C.J. Stroud, an up-and-coming signal-caller, in 2024-25. However, Diggs will have plenty of competition for targets in Houston, so he could have a tough time hitting the 1,000-yard receiving mark for a seventh-consecutive season.

From RotoBaller

Dallas Goedert Jun 23 9:20pm ET
Dallas Goedert

Philadelphia Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert isn't concerned about it potentially being his last year with the team. "I feel really good," the veteran said in an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer. "I'm not too worried about it. I love being in Philadelphia. I'm going to give them everything I've got and let the chips fall where they may fall." Goedert also believes he'll benefit from the hiring of new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. "He's been doing a great job of just making the offense make sense," commented Goedert. "I feel like it'll play in favor of the tight end, the quick game a little bit, getting back to the pivots. I'm really excited for how he uses the tight end and how he feels like they can be a big part of the offense and help win games. Goedert, who signed a four-year, $57 million contract extension in 2001, finished last season by amassing 592 yards and three touchdowns off a career-high 59 catches. With the tight end spot historically known for its volatility, fantasy managers certainly shouldn't look beyond the 29-year-old in drafts, considering he appears enthusiastic and ready to produce in 2024-25.

From RotoBaller

Dallas Goedert Jun 23 3:53pm ET
Dallas Goedert

Philadelphia Eagles TE Dallas Goedert had high praise for the offense under new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore and expects a bigger role in the passing game. 'I'm really excited for how he uses the tight end and how he feels like they can be a big part of the offense and help win games,' Geodert told The Philadelphia Inquirer on Saturday, June 22.

Fantasy Spin: Goedert posted 592 yards and just 42.3 yards per game in 2023, finishing as the TE12 in PPR points per game. His ceiling remains limited given the wide receiver duo in Philly, and the addition of Saquon Barkley is likely to eat into Goedert's target share. He's a low-end TE1 for fantasy.

From TheHuddle